From glass walls, walk-on flooring and balustrades, to transparent doors and windows, this design guide examines how these elements can transform the look and feel of a property
Installing internal glazing in your self build, extension or renovation project can be a great way to filter natural light throughout your property, and works well in both modern and traditional schemes. Not only will it add a stunning architectural statement, but it's also a great way to connect different zones. It allows for views outdoors and, depending on how it's used, can create slight lines from one side of the house to the other. Whether you're planning to use glass for a solid interior wall, internal doors, windows, staircases or a section of glazing set within a wall, there's lots of factors that need to be considered.
Internal glazed walls
Incorporating this type of glass feature provides a smart way of dividing up zones within an open-plan area and allowing maximum light into small, awkward spaces. Glazed door, windows and partitions can also be great for use in an ensuite, cupboard or utility, where an external opening isn't possible. When choosing what type of glass to use, consider double glazing. This will help with sound-proofing - ideal for office spaces or entertainment rooms, where noise needs to be contained.
The most common way to install a glazed wall is to place it within a recessed frame set within the surrounding structure. If a door is being incorporated into the feature, it will need to be mounted off the surrounding glass panes.
Internal glazed doors and windows
If a whole wall of glass is too much for you, you could consider large frameless windows and doors instead. These work well in corridors, landings and stairwells where a lack of natural light is often an issue.
Floor glazing is ideal for use in homes with basement extensions and mezzanine levels, as they can help filter natural brightness into what can often be sun-starved interior zones. Walk-on glazing is best used when located near to a major natural light source, to take advantage of the sunshine that's streaming through it, so consider fitting it next to bifold doors, fixed floor-to-ceiling windows or beneath rooflights. In some instances, where a basement extends out into the back garden, you may want to think about installing it outdoors, to make the most of sunlight.
For safety, you need to use a material that complies with the loading requirements in the Building Regulations. This means fitting thermally toughened, laminated annealed glass - with the thickness dependant on the span. You must also ensure it is anti-slip and, depending on where the unit is located, consider obscure or etched glazing to maintain privacy, while allowing maximum sunlight to reach your home's interior.
Often overlooked, this feature can make a huge impact on the way light moves between different floors in a home. Whether you opt for a traditional or modern design, adding glazing to your flight of steps will help sunshine to flow throughout your house and create a better sense of space. Different options to consider include incorporating a window running alongside the structure, a roof light above, glass open treads or balustrading.
If you're considering a double-height space - whether hallway, landing or mezzanine - consider either fitting floor-to-ceiling fixed glazing, or clerestory windows. Not only will these arrangements accentuate the height in your home and provide stunning outdoor views, but they will also ensure light flows throughout the whole room. Both can be used internally as a way of borrowing light between spaces, too.
Frameless & structural glazing
Toughened and laminated sheets are used to produce frameless glazing that is safe for balustrading on balconies and staircases, glass shower panels with no edging, and frameless doors. Toughened glazing is produced by heat-treating the glass, which makes it much stronger than standard versions. When broken, it crumbles into granular chunks, rather than sharp splinters - great for safety purposes. Laminated solutions are made from sheets of glass that are sandwiched together and separated by a thin film of material. If it cracks, this layer holds it together.
Structural glazing actually helps to hold up a building, which means you need to closely follow the regulations when installing it. It works by using toughened glass that has been laminated, or set in layers, which can sometimes be up to five layers deep. The actual strength of the glass is determined by the size and thickness of the sheet, which means the cost of using this varies enormously, depending on how large the spans are for your project.
If you want to incorporate structural glass, it makes good sense to speak with an architectural glazing company for advice. They will be able to design and detail the specifications and advise on installation.
One thing to consider, if you're planning on fitting lots of internal glazing, is where you'll place your heating source if you're not installing underfloor heating. What's more, if you have young children, think about the safety aspect of a see-through material, which could cause lots of bumped heads and faces - and fingerprints!